Sutter Health, Eden Medical Center
CEQA

by George Bischalaney, President & CEO, Eden Medical Center

Nearly a year after the California Nurses Association filed a challenge to prevent Sutter Health from rebuilding Eden Medical Center, the petition has been denied. The judgment by Alameda County Superior Court was entered on July 7, 2010, and the Order Denying the Petition is now on the court’s website case # RG09462329. You can also view a PDF version of the judge’s order.

For all of us at Eden Medical Center, and more importantly, residents of Alameda County, this is very good news. We have always believed that this misguided attempt to stop a State-mandated rebuilding project was not based upon merit. Gratefully, the court agreed with our position.

On July 1, 2009, we broke ground to begin the project, just weeks after receiving approval of our Environmental Impact Report from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. Despite the union’s challenge filed last year, work continued without hesitation. As a result, we remain on the very tight schedule to meet the opening date of January 2013.  Any delay caused by this action would have put the timely opening, if not the project, in jeopardy.

When completed, the 230,000-square-foot hospital and 80,000-square-foot medical office building will provide assurance to the people of Alameda County that it will not only withstand a significant earthquake, but remain operational to aide victims affected by it.

The entire steel framework has been completed, and work continues to at a rapid pace.
Weather permitting through the end of this year, the project team hopes to have the exterior and roofs completed, weather tight before the spring rains, and begin working in earnest on the interior finishes.

Sutter Medical  Center Faces Costly Delay, Loss of Construction Jobs as State Deadline Looms

The California Nurses Association (CNA) has filed a lawsuit that threatens the future of the new Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley now under construction.

That the nurses union would sue to stop us from building our new hospital after a decade of planning is extremely frustrating to our employees, physicians, volunteers and patients who have worked so hard and so long for this,” said Eden Medical Center President & CEO George Bischalaney. “This political action by the union hurts everyone, puts thousands of jobs in jeopardy, threatens the future of the hospital and could cause irreparable harm to the community.

This type of action drives up the cost of health care for everyone. After an exhaustive and inclusive public process, the union’s lawsuit could mean will not be able to meet the State’s 2013 deadline to replace the Eden hospital. Not meeting the deadline could result in closure of current hospital before the new hospital is completed and certified for occupancy.”

The Environmental Impact Report and land use entitlements were approved by the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council, the Alameda County Planning Commission and Alameda County Board of Supervisors. The first phase of construction has been approved by the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Alameda County granted necessary permits and construction started July 1.

The new medical campus will create more than a 1,000 union jobs during the three years of construction and pump millions of dollars into the local economy benefiting many local businesses.

Construction crews demolished the vacant Pine Cone Apartment complex and began relocating the helipad and are readying the site for the foundation of the $320 million, seven-story, 130-bed hospital and regional trauma center. The new medical center will expand needed emergency and urgent care services. A new 80,000-square-foot medical office building for physicians is also planned. Sutter Health is financing the entire project with no public taxes or funding.

Sutter has invested more than $200 million in capital in Eden Medical Center’s facilities since acquiring the hospital from the Eden Township Healthcare District in 1998. The new hospital and medical office buildings would bring this investment in the regional medical campus and trauma center to more than $600 million by 2013.

George Bischalaney, President and CEO, Eden Medical Center

By George Bischalaney, President & CEO, Eden Medical Center

Health care reform is on the agenda, again. The stakes are high, but our President is determined to make some significant changes. As the discussion moves from general to specifics, special interests are staking out their positions. None of the stakeholders—hospitals included—wants to feel the impact or be at a disadvantage.

Amidst the demand for cost reduction and health care coverage for all, there is and must be continued investment in care. Physicians demand it. They expect to be able to practice with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to produce outcomes that meet national, state and local quality standards. Patients demand it. They want to know that their local hospital has the right number of well-trained staff as well as the latest diagnostic and treatment equipment, and contemporary facilities.

With this backdrop of conflicting needs, Eden Medical Center is about to begin a three-year project that will result in the replacement of the Castro Valley hospital. The project cost is estimated to be $320 million. The current 55-year-old building is anything but contemporary. With few private rooms, small operating rooms and inadequate support space for clinical services, a new hospital is very much needed.

Eden Medical Center has served the community well, but it was not designed for patient comfort and needs, more for staff needs and functionality. While our project may seem ill timed given the uncertainty of hospital reimbursement, we are required to meet California legislated standards for seismic safety in hospitals. And it truly is needed.

We’ll celebrate our long sought goal with a ground-breaking ceremony on July 1st. Then we’ll spend the next three years continuing the investment in the new buildings and equipment, while observing and hoping that decision makers do not enact legislation that essentially penalizes us for the commitment we are making. When we celebrate the grand opening and our new beginning early in 2013, it should be with the same hope and dreams as those who celebrated the first ceremony in 1954.

Main Entrance

By Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

After much debate and public input, the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to certify the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) and approve the zoning and land use entitlements for the new hospital to replace 54-year-old Eden Medical Center.

Passage of the EIR and land use entitlement approvals is a major milestone for the Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley project—and the communities that will be served by this new, state-of-the-art hospital and adjoining medical office building.

About 20 speakers addressed the Board of Supervisors about the new hospital as well as concerns about future plans for San Leandro Hospital. Eden President & CEO George Bischalaney expressed to the Board members the overwhelming support for the new hospital, even among those who encouraged rejection of the EIR to “save San Leandro Hospital.” Bischalaney and others urged Board members not to delay approvals in order to meet “a very tight project timeline” and advised the Board not to tie the new hospital project to the uncertainty around San Leandro Hospital’s future.

In the end, the Board of Supervisors maintained that its obligation was to make a decision on the land use entitlement proposal before them. However, Board members promised to continue to work with Sutter and the District to come up with an optimal plan for San Leandro Hospital, and to meet the health care needs of the communities.

We are grateful to the many people of Eden Medical Center, San Leandro Hospital and our communities for participating in this process. We had tremendous support at both Board of Supervisors meetings, through the petitions, and all the phone calls and letters of encouragement.

What Happens Now?

The Board’s approval clears the way for SMCCV to use the designated property to build the new hospital, which will be on the northwest side of the Eden Medical Center campus, adjacent to the existing hospital.

In the coming weeks, we will file the appropriate permits to begin work on the land, including the demolition of the vacant apartment building and other site improvements, and the foundation work for the actual construction of the new hospital. Oversight and approval for the further construction is handled by the
California Office of Statewide Health Planning & Development.

The immediate work around the campus will get the land ready for construction and help minimize delays so we can proceed with building the new hospital as soon as possible in order to meet the deadline for State-mandated earthquake safety requirements.

We look forward to moving ahead with the project. As always, your questions and comments are welcome on this blog and on our social networks!

We could really use your support! The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will meet this Tuesday, June 9th, at 1:00 p.m. to make the final decision whether or not to build the new hospital to replace Eden Medical Center and pass the FEIR (Final Environmental Impact Report). We all know the value of having a hospital in our own backyards.

The meeting starts at 1:00, but Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley is on the agenda at 2:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Administration Building, Board Chambers, 1221 Oak Street, 5th Floor, Room 512, in Oakland.  If you would like to read the Board’s agenda in advance, please click and download the PDF file here (see page 2).

We are also still taking signatures on the online petition, if you want to add your name and comments there. Additionally, your comments are always welcome here on this blog.

By Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

To follow up on the May 12, 2009 Alameda County Board of Supervisors meeting, the decision to certify the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) has been delayed to June 9th to address concerns raised about San Leandro Hospital, which is leased and operated as part of Eden Medical Center, but owned by the Eden Township Healthcare District (the District).  For more information, please see our previous blog post.

In the days prior to the May 12th meeting, after many rounds of public commentary, and after the EIR and related land use entitlements were approved by the Castro Valley MAC (Municipal Advisory Council) and the Alameda County Planning Commission, several community members and labor representatives raised last minute concerns about parts of the EIR. Those opposed to the EIR certification claim that there was not an adequate assessment of the impact of any possible closure or change of services at San Leandro Hospital, despite the fact that the EIR consultant and County planning staff have stated that the EIR is complete and the issues around San Leandro Hospital, while not related to the project, have no impact on the project. Supervisor Nate Miley made a motion for the Board to meet again to make the decision on June 9, 2009, which would provide attorneys for Alameda County an opportunity to examine these claims in more detail.

Supervisors Miley and Haggerty voiced their concerns about speakers making false or misleading allegations as a political tactic, in order to delay the EIR approval process, thereby “holding the Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley project for ransom,” which he and the other Supervisors warned could endanger the future of both Eden and San Leandro Hospitals. While there has been no decision by Sutter Health or the District on the future of San Leandro Hospital, the issue remains a topic of community discussion.

Eden Medical Center President & CEO George Bischalaney and other Sutter and Eden project team members emphasized the urgency of not going beyond June 9th to approve the EIR, as the delay of even a month could significantly hold up construction and may cause Sutter Health to withdraw its support from both hospitals. Sutter Health has already promised the $320 million to pay for the completion of the new Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley.

At the conclusion of the May 12th meeting, the four Supervisors present, with Supervisor Keith Carson absent, voiced their support for the new hospital project and the need to rebuild Eden Medical Center. They also are concerned about the future of San Leandro Hospital, and that concerns over San Leandro should perhaps be discussed in another forum, unrelated to the land use entitlements for Eden.

As our project team discussed in previous articles and blog posts and at the hearing, any delays in approvals and construction have serious repercussions, in terms of meeting state deadlines to rebuild, in creating a safe environment for patients and staff, and in funding this major project. The new hospital must be rebuilt, or it will close as an acute care facility effective January 1, 2013. We now have before us a fully funded hospital project—without public funding or taxes—that will secure the future of Eden Medical Center, preserve jobs and bring nearly 1,000 construction jobs to the region at a time when the economy is depressed and construction is drying up.

As I stated before, the issues around San Leandro Hospital are complex and important.  The community has a right to know what is happening. But the information being discussed now is no different that it has been for the past several years: the hospital is struggling and must be reinvented to bring value to the community and ensure that it can sustain itself over time.  It is clear to me that the residents of San Leandro desire a full service community hospital, yet the majority of them will never use it. The community and local elected officials have known that this is a concern, and yet this last minute effort to stop the EIR based on what some claim to be “new information” is not justified. San Leandro Hospital, its employees, physicians and patients need to be part of the solution for the hospital, to be discussed in its own forum with regional providers who can bring truth and substance to the discussion.  It should not be used as a political maneuver to stop Sutter Health from rebuilding Eden.

Please speak up, let our Board of Supervisors know they must not delay any further.  These delays put both hospitals in jeopardy. I encourage you to stand up and let your voice be heard on this issue.  Don’t just wait for the next hearing, but instead pick up the phone or send a letter to the Board and let them know you support the new hospital project, and encourage them to certify the EIR so the project can move forward before it’s too late.

Call today!

Supervisor Nate Miley — 510-272-6694

Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker — 510-272-6693

Supervisor Gail Steele — 510-272-6692

Supervisor Keith Carson — 510-272-6695

Supervisor Scott Haggerty — 510-272-6691

By Cassandra Clark, Project Communications Director

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!

We are only a week away from the Alameda County Board of Supervisors hearing in which the Board will consider the Final Environmental Impact Report, zoning changes, and Castro Valley general plan changes. We are asking for your support at this critical step.

Local groups and some residents of San Leandro are applying fierce political pressure on the Board members to deny approval. Their reason? The future of San Leandro Hospital is unknown, and therefore they are pressuring the Board of Supervisors to require Sutter Health to keep San Leandro Hospital open as a condition of approving the land use for the new hospital in Castro Valley.

What wrong with this?  First of all, the Board of Supervisors are not voting on the future of San Leandro Hospital—they are having a public hearing on the land use entitlements and certifying the EIR. To delay or deny approval based on pressure about San Leandro is wrong.

The future of San Leandro Hospital is not and should not be tied to the new hospital. Indeed, San Leandro Hospital is a critical issue that must be addressed—and it requires a regional solution, more careful planning, and a separate focus than this project.  It’s an important issue that cannot be overlooked, for the sake of the staff, physicians and patients. But the complex issues at one hospital should not be tied to the land use entitlements for the new hospital project.

Simply stated, by delaying plans for the new hospital, the Board will jeopardize the future of Eden AND San Leandro hospitals.

I am asking you to attend the Board of Supervisors meeting on May 12 and SPEAK UP in favor of our new hospital. Speakers are limited to 3 minutes, but a simple 30-second statement is powerful. The Board needs to know that residents of Castro Valley and surrounding communities want and need this new hospital, without delays.

Meeting details:

Tuesday, May 12
1:00 p.m.

Board of Supervisors Meeting Chambers
1221 Oak Street, Oakland

If you cannot attend the meeting, we need to you to contact the Alameda County Board of Supervisors and have you voice your opinion. It is so important that the Board hears from everyone, especially since the majority of people in our community support this project (an astounding 80% of community members are in favor according to recent polls!).

Call your Supervisors today!

Supervisor Nate Miley — 510-272-6694

Supervisor Alice Lai-Bitker — 510-272-6693

Supervisor Gail Steele — 510-272-6692

Supervisor Keith Carson — 510-272-6695

Supervisor Scott Haggerty — 510-272-6691

Thank you for your continued support!

As always, we also appreciate your comments and questions on this blog, and we’ll respond as quickly as possible.

Main Entrance at Twilight

The new Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley, which will replace Eden Hospital.

Main Entrance at Twilight The new year brings renewed energy and focus on our project, as we move toward completing the entitlements to begin construction of the Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley hospital. The first major step in that process is the completion of the Environmental Impact Report. In December 2008, the Alameda County Planning Commission filed the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR), and it is now available for inspection and comment.

As a reminder, the second public hearing on the DEIR is scheduled for tonight, Monday, January 5, 2009, at 6:00 p.m., in the Public Hearing Room of the Alameda County Planning Commission, 224 West Winton Avenue, in Hayward.

Of course, this isn’t the only opportunity to comment. The County can provide you with copies of the DEIR, or you can view them here, and you can send correspondence to the County directly in response to the DEIR. All of these links are provided here for your convenience.

In the meantime, we continue to grow our online network to keep our communities informed about our progress. We are still in the early stages, and we expect to continue to develop our online communities over the next several years through the construction period. Look for us on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, FriendFeed and other popular sites, linked from the icons in the right sidebar.

You can also connect to us through your own social media networks. Contact our Social Media Team to let us know the URL (Web address) for your business, neighborhood or other social network where it might be appropriate for us to comment and discuss the new hospital with your online community.

Here’s to a healthy New Year!

Cassandra Phelps Clark
Project Communications Director

Jesus Armas

This week, the Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) was made available by Alameda County for public review and comment. This is a major milestone for this project, putting us one step closer to a new hospital for residents for central Alameda County. The document is about 300 pages of detail, and is available through the Alameda County Planning Commission. We are also planning to make it available on our site as downloadable PDF documents. Please keep checking our Resources page for updates.

The public is able to comment on the DEIR through January 20, 2009 (the end of the 45-day comment period). We’ve posted the County’s announcement that contains information about how to provide comment. We’ve also provided you with a link to their e-mail. Keep in mind that all comments directly related to content of the DEIR must go to the Alameda County Planning Department—we do not receive or review these comments first. Of course, as always, if you just have a general comment about the project or any of the blog posts, you are welcome to comment directly to us in the comment section below each post.

For those of you who are interested in attending a public meeting, the County is holding two hearings during the comment period:

Monday, December 15 at 6 p.m.
Castro Valley Unified School District Office
4400 Alma Avenue, Castro Valley

Tuesday, January 5, 2009 at 6 p.m.
Alameda County Planning Commission
Public Hearing Room
224 West Winton Avenue, Hayward

I encourage you to take the time to review all or a portion of the document, ask us questions if you have them, and let us know what you think.

Jesus Armas

By Jesús Armas, Government Affairs Liaison

In 1970, the State of California adopted landmark legislation known as the California Environmental Quality Act. The Act, often referred to by its four-letter acronym (CEQA), establishes a requirement that the potential environmental impacts associated with a proposed project be analyzed before a decision is made to approve or deny a project. If, as a result of this analysis, it is determined that a project will have significant environmental impacts, CEQA also requires that measures be identified to address the impacts. These are called mitigation measures. CEQA also acknowledges that not all impacts can be fully mitigated, and sets up a mechanism whereby a project can still be approved, provided the final decision makers make certain findings indicating why the benefits of the project outweigh the impacts which cannot be mitigated.

Central to CEQA is the principle that individuals, agencies and other interested parties have the right to review and comment on what is learned through the environmental evaluation process. An obvious question emerges: What is the best way to obtain, assemble and make available the information resulting from this process?

The answer lies in a document called an Environmental Impact Report—or EIR for short. Basically, this document contains relevant information documenting whether a project is expected to impact the environment and how the identified impacts will be lessened. Established procedures determine which issues must be addressed in an EIR, but among the most common are traffic, air quality and noise. Once completed, the document—known as a Draft EIR (DEIR)—is released for public review and comment. Under CEQA, interested parties have 45 days in which to submit written and oral comments.

After the comment period is concluded, responses to these comments must be prepared. The responses to the comments, together with the Draft EIR, constitute what is called the Final EIR. It is this latter document that is presented to and considered by the governmental body with authority to act on a project.

With the foregoing as background, how does this relate to Sutter Medical Center Castro Valley? A number of months ago, with the concurrence and approval of Alameda County, the environmental consulting firm of ESA was retained to conduct an environmental assessment of the project. This assessment has been completed, allowing the County to release the DEIR for public review and comment. Electronic copies will be available on our Resources page within the next few days, with paper copies available as noted at the location listed here. A summary of the document, including a list of project impacts and how they are to be addressed can be obtained by clicking here.

The comment period opened December 4, 2008 and concludes at 5:00 PM on January 20, 2009. Comments on the Draft EIR should not be submitted to Sutter Health or Eden Medical Center. They should be submitted to Alameda County.

In addition to receiving written comments, the County scheduled at least two public hearings to enable interested parties to comment orally, as I mentioned in my previous post on this topic, on October 30th. The first hearing is sponsored by the Castro Valley Municipal Advisory Council and will be held on December 15th. The Alameda County Planning Commission will be the site of the second public hearing, which will occur on January 5, 2009. Click here for times and locations.

While Sutter Health welcomes your comments on this post, please be aware this will not constitute an official comment on the Draft EIR. If you wish to comment on the Draft EIR, please avail yourself of the opportunities listed above, and keep checking back to download .pdf copies of the Draft EIR on the Resources page.

Birds-eye View of Campus in 2014

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